5/1/2011: Bay Crossings, May Article

Leopard Sharks: Spotted in the Bay
(Adapted from Bay Crossings, May issue)

There are five species of sharks commonly found in San Francisco Bay: sevengill, soupfin, spiny dogfish, brown smoothhound and the most common, the leopard shark, Triakis semifasciata.

Leopard sharks have an elongated, gray to brown body with distinct dark saddle bars on its back and sides—no two leopard sharks have the same pattern. The average length of a leopard shark is four to five feet long.

“Even though leopard sharks are common in San Francisco Bay, their beautiful patterns are very unusual for sharks,” said Christina J. Slager, director of husbandry at Aquarium of the Bay.

Leopard sharks prefer shallow waters, making San Francisco Bay and other bays and estuaries ideal living grounds. They usually stay near the bottom and are rarely found in water more than 65 feet deep. Their bottom-dwelling preference provides plentiful access to favorite foods including crabs, shrimp, worms, fish and fish eggs.

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